By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It was evident one team was getting more comfortable as time ticked away in the opening game of the Munford Christmas Classic Saturday night between the MLK Prep Rams and Brighton Cardinals.
The scoreboard in the Munford Gymnasium displayed a close contest throughout the first half. Then the Rams exploded for a 17-2 early in the fourth quarter leading to a 56-50 victory.
The defeat dropped the Cardinals to 7-7 overall. Brighton has been 3-5 since the injury to freshman standout guard Taelyr Gatlin in the Melrose game. Gatlin had surgery on his knee in mid-December and will miss the rest of the season.
“We don’t have a leader on the court,” Brighton Head Coach Stan Gatlin said. “We don’t have anyone who can settle the team down when things get out of hand. A dominant ball handler who’s going to demand people get into their spots, we don’t have an extension of myself out there right now. I hope our other point guard steps up and gets all that done.”
Brighton’s other point guard is Tramaine Cooper. Along side teammate Terrlwayne White’s 4 points, Cooper scored 4 points in the first quarter. The contest was deadlock at 14-14 heading into the second quarter.
MLK outscored Brighton 12-10 in the second quarter behind the shooting of Montavious Tabb. The Rams’ scored 10 more point in the third quarter. The Cardinals were paced by White who tallied 6 points in the third period.
White hit a layup falling to the court that made the score 35-30 in favor of Brighton. But Tabb sparked the Rams with a layup and jumper to end the third with MLK ahead 36-35.
To start the four quarter the Rams got contributions from Tabb, Raymone Matthews and Tanerio Lauderdale to build a 53-39 advantage.
“We played a lot of bad basketball tonight,” Coach Gatlin acknowledged. “We didn’t guard very well. We didn’t rotate on defense very well. We were leaving guys open. So when people were shooting, we were running past them instead of closing out on them.”
Matthews was able to draw fouls hitting 5 of 6 free throws to build the 14-point advantage. The Cardinals rallied to make the score 53-48 behind the shooting of White and inside play of Kolton Childress. The highlight of Brighton’s 9-0 run was a Childress slam dunk on the fast break.
But free throws from Matthews and Bryan Patterson iced the game for MLK.
“We didn’t step up to the plate tonight,” Gatlin concluded. “We didn’t man-up. We didn’t face adversity tonight. Instead of running up to it and being men about it, we kind of ran from it.”